Wapato for Portland's Homeless

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For Portland’s homeless, getting help in downtown is like running an obstacle course. We are asking people with little or no access to transportation to move back and forth across town, from one agency to another, desperately trying to stitch together the resources and referrals they need to pull themselves back on their feet.

The Wapato correctional facility can be part of an overall, comprehensive plan for meeting Portland’s homeless alleviation goals. Wapato can become a one-stop assistance center for people without housing, bringing together key social service agencies in one location to make it easier for people to get the help they need. Services can include providing shelter and meals, government assistance, laundry, storage, computer lab, clothing closet, animal kennel, case management, AA/NA meetings, mental health and substance abuse treatment, education classes, employment assistance and training, and, most of all, a place people can call home.

Most importantly, Wapato can provide recovery-oriented transitional housing. It can be a place of hope where services combine housing with peer support, educational, vocational and employment services for up to 525 homeless and formerly homeless from across the state of Oregon, with an emphasis on serving homeless veterans and domestic abuse survivors (some 200 of whom will be kicked out of the temporary Sears Armory shelter in less than five months).

For those who say that Wapato would cost too much, how much is a life worth? Since Wapato finished construction, according to the Multnomah County coroner, more than 500 people have died on the streets of Portland, knowing that their city had let them down. Ironically, this is almost the same number of beds that have been available at the facility.